The Boston University Art Gallery opened its fall season with Monument to Love: Swedish Marriage Textiles from the Khalili Collection. The first exhibition of this material in the United States and one of the few exhibitions of Swedish Textiles ever in this country, the exhibition showcases the rare and unique Swedish Marriage Textiles from the Khalili Collection.

This exhibition, consisting of sixty-four pieces, celebrates a very beautiful and relatively unknown artistic practice that flourished in Scania, the southernmost region of Sweden, beginning in the mid-18th century, and was represented in textile panels made as commemorations for wedding ceremonies. This rare and rather personal artistic expression persisted for almost 100 years. Highly valued objects integral to the bride's dowry for their symbolism, beauty and demonstration of fine taste and handiwork, the art of weaving textiles was an important tradition that passed from mother to daughter in the mid-18th to early-19th centuries.

Local women, unidentified in the works and usually the wives and daughters of prosperous farmers and landholders, individually created each textile shown in this exhibit. Daughters learned to weave at a young age, as it was an advantage at the time of marriage to have a full marriage chest filled with beautiful tapestries as a dowry. Having a strong reputation as a weaver also reflected a woman's ability to make a pleasing home and care for her family. The textiles on exhibit, demonstrating the "golden age" of Swedish textile production, were generally woven in one of two techniques: röIakan and flamskväv, resulting in a variety of rich visual patterns, ornamentation, and motifs.

Ranging from small square seat cushion covers to impressive wall-length tapestries often as long as seven feet, these striking textiles have retained their vibrant colours, as many were treasured items brought out only for special festivities. Constructed of complex geometric patterns and woven in a technique rarely used today, the works on exhibit mark an important moment in textile history, representing both a Swedish regional style and a far-reaching Byzantine, Islamic, and Asian visual precedent. This exhibition and related programming reinforces the Boston University Art Gallery's commitment to offering a diverse and interdisciplinary approach to art and culture.

Stacey McCarroll is the Director and Curator of the Boston University Art Gallery.

Exhibition Coordinator for this exhibition was Melissa Renn.



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